Elise Blackwell -answers my questions

Elise Blackwell

Early this month i asked Elise Blackwell who i have tweeted with on twitter if i could ask her some questions with her new book the unfinished score is coming out in april on unbridled books .I myself am a huge fan having read both grub and hunger by Elise .As it is my birthday today i decide to run it today here you go-

What books /writers have influenced your writing?

I grew up in the shadow of southern American writers, including Faulkner, O’Connor, Welty, Percy, and Hannah. While I don’t write like any of them, all influenced me in an identifiable way. In college and immediately following, by biggest contemporary influence was probably Michael Ondaatje. I read all kinds of things—though more European than U.S. fiction as of late—and I feel their presence when I work. My favorite writer is W.G. Sebald, particularly The Rings of Saturn and Austerlitz.

How much research did you have to do for your new book an unfinished score ?

You could ask how much research did I get to do for An Unfinished Score! I love music, so the research was part of what attracted me to the material. I went to concerts, sat in on master classes, read the biographies of composers, and listened to a lot of music. It was a lot of work. Though I’ve always loved music, I found out quickly that I knew a lot less than I thought I did. Having bailed on the viola at the age of ten (due to utter lack of talent), I’d forgotten how physical music is.

Do you have a routine when you are writing your novels ,what is your study/office like ?

In the summer when I’m not teaching, I have something of a routine in that I write for a few hours every day. During the rest of the year, I write when I can. That might be four hours on Friday afternoon, four more on Saturday, and twenty minutes here and there throughout the rest of the week. I’ve trained myself to think about the novel I’m working on whenever possible; that way I’m ready to write as soon as I sit down.

What gave you the idea for an unfinished score ?

Like most novels, this one didn’t arise from a single idea but from several small moments and thoughts. The image that fuelled the initial writing came from a symphony I attended in Philadelphia. One of the viola players seemed both passionate about her work and really sad. I wondered how she could play so beautifully if she was indeed deeply sad. It’s the fiction writer’s job to wonder why people are how they are, and I wondered why she was sad, whether she was grieving something. I’d been interested in writing about music since I touched on Shostakovich’s Leningrad Symphony in my first novel, and so I started to think more about it, including composition. Among the ideas I considered was what it would be like to have a talent and love for an art form with a such a small audience. Would your life feel special or wasted? What would it be like to lead that life?

Are you working on anything new ?

I’ve started the next novel, which I’m calling Water Damage. I’s set in post-Katrina New Orleans, and one of the main characters is an art conservator who specializes in the restoration of water-damaged paintings. Another is an artist, another works for the Art Loss Registry, and another is a troubled young man from a prominent family. My idea is that each of these four major characters is damaged in some unseen way that makes them dangerous to each other. The plot centers around a stolen painting from the past and a murder that was overlooked in the chaos of the Katrina evacuation. One idea I want to explore is how some people’s lives are dramatically altered by external forces, while other people fates are shaped by their pasts.

 many thanks Elise and good luck with the new book .an unfinished score is out april 10th on unbridled books

an unfinished score by Elise Blackwell

March 2010
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